Saudi Arabia: International Institutions & Cross-Cultural Communications

cross-cultural communications

When I worked abroad in embassies I was naturally an American in a foreign land.  However in an embassy one would continue to have regular and routine contact with fellow Americans.  Yes; there would be FSN (foreign service nationals) or TCN’s (third country nationals) who were employed by the embassy but it would not be the same as working in a true international organization.  In an aside, an FSN is usually a citizen of the host country in which one is located but if they are working in an embassy it is common to refer to them as an FSN.  A TCN who may work in an embassy is someone from yet a third country (ie, neither American nor citizen of the host country).  Naturally many embassy officers would have regular interaction and contacts with nationals of the country in which they serve as well as interact in various capacities with other diplomats in residence from various countries.




These interactions and contacts are not the same as specifically working in an international organization and having to create a cohesive working team composed of multiple individuals from differing countries, cultures, languages, traditions and backgrounds.  In my view, the Saudi organizations which employ large numbers of expats are classic exemplars of cross-cultural communication in action.  As a result, cultural training and sensitivity is critical to success and efficiency in such an organization.

  It is not always easy to successfully communicate.  English is usually decreed as the official working language in such organizations but while everyone may be speaking English, there are noticeable distinctions in the level of fluency which can impact on understanding.  Overall though it is an enriching and rewarding experience to work in such a dynamic and culturally rich environment.  So if one is coming to work in such an organization in Saudi Arabia, there is not only the opportunity to get to know the Kingdom and Saudis but the rest of the world as well!


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